I think my most important learning from the Mexico Study Tour is about the complexity of the country, the people, the families and the culture. From my family's business and from working in Worthington and other communities, I had learned some things about the people, culture and immigration issues. I found many of those things either confirmed in preparation for or actually on the study tour. But, I also learned just how complex the issues are. I knew little about how history has influenced the Mexico of today. As we work in MN Extension, this means Hispanic families come from many kinds of backgrounds. We cannot assume their experiences are all alike. For example, how immigrants from a rural area approach things might be quite different from those who may have come from the cities.
Immigration is so complex. Although the immigrant panel members's experiences were about crossing the physical border, there are other ways to come to the US. Who comes here and why is also complex influencing what Family Development does. Do we need to have discussions about who we target? Is it recent immigrants and what does that mean? Or, do we also look at working more with families who have been here longer but are still marginalized?
Besides the complexity, I also realized how very little I know. I plan to learn more about different kinds of visas. I plan to visit the US Embassy website. I hope to learn more about NAFTA to sort out the varying viewpoints we heard. I plan to take more time to talk with Mexican Americans in my work. Some of these areas are not things that I directly work with via Family Relations, but I think due to the complexiity, I need to look at it as a package. All things are connected and that makes a difference for how we work with families. I have way more questions than answers right now.